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Report: Tesla Autopilot Results in Decreased Driver Attention

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Electric vehicle maker Tesla’s Autopilot results in a noticeable decrease in driver attention when activated finds a new report.

According to a new study, based on MIT Advanced Vehicle Technology data, drivers tend to look at things non-related to driving more often and for longer periods of time when Autopilot is activated.

“The model replicates the observed glance pattern across drivers. The model’s components show that off-road glances were longer with Autopilot active than without and that their frequency characteristics changed,” the study indicated.

“Driving-related off-road glances were less frequent with Autopilot active than in manual driving, while non-driving related glances to the down/center-stack areas were the most frequent and the longest (22 percent of the glances exceeded 2 s),” it added.

The model is based on glance data from 290 human-initiated Autopilot disengagement epochs.

The authors said that the model can be used as a reference for safety assessment or to formulate design targets for driver management systems.

According to the auto-tech website Electrek, Tesla has been releasing quarterly “safety reports”, which they use to claim Tesla vehicles with Autopilot engaged have “close to 10x lower chances of being involved in an accident than the average car”.

However, this interpretation of the data has been disputed.

In most Tesla vehicles equipped with a version of Autopilot (1.0 to 3.0), the Autopilot features are mostly being used for highway driving. The same distinction is found for the “average vehicle”, which National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) overall crash data in the US is based on.


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